Aug 9, 2013

Strange Incense – An abomination before a Holy God

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!

Lev 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

This scripture portion caught my mind when I was reading the book of Leviticus (and my mind was also seeking guidance from the lord about false charismata). I believe this thought is relevant for the church of God today since we are called to be kings and priests before the lord. (1Pet 2:9)

For me, this chapter (Lev 10) represents one of the saddest moments in the glorious times that Israel went through.
  • They had just completed building the tabernacle of God according to the design that God gave them. Lev 9:23-24 describe the culmination of the inaugural sacrifices which God himself blessed and made his presence felt. 
  • Firstly, they were enjoying the deliverance from sin (through the sacrifices). 
  • Secondly, they had received detailed instructions for ministry of priests (and the promise of ongoing sacrifices in Lev 8 & 9. 
  • The high priests had just blessed them and the glory of the lord was with them and showed his approval of their obedience to his design by consuming the sacrifice with heavenly fire. 

Nadab and Abihu were in the centre of this glory, being the sons of Aaron. At the next moment, we see that they did the things which brought down the fire of God’s wrath on themselves. They offered strange fire and for the same reason, God consumed them and they died.

Why such a harsh judgment ?
Let us meditate on why this action was so despicable for God that he (who is full of grace and long-suffering and mercy) consumed these 2 priests on the spot. A few of my thoughts below.
  • They acted over and above what God had commanded. The festivities of the day were over. The lord had shown himself. After the fire consumed the sacrifice, Nadab and Abihu wanted to continue the glorious site. They tried to replicate the glory of God. Our God is a jealous God and if anyone tries to do an imitation of the real thing, he shall consume them. 
  • It was strange fire. They took fire off another source. The incense was supposed to be burnt only with the fire from the brazen altar. God is only pleased with a sacrifice which is done according to the will of God revealed in his scriptures. The source of worship has to be sanctified and holy (not a strange or unholy source of fire). This was warned in Exo 30:9. 
  • To offer incense offering, one had to enter into the holy of holies. This was reserved for the high priest and not for the other priests even the children of the high priest. 
  • Some people even say that they offered strange fire under intoxication (which was revealed in a rule in Lev 10:9 immediately after this)

This was a period where the covenant and tabernacle was being established before the Israelites. The severe judgement of God came on Nadab and Abihu since God wouldn’t allow such callousness amongst his priests and anointed. Similar to how Ananias and Safira were dealt with for their sin of hiding from the lord in the new testament church age, this was a cancer which had to be cutoff else, it would cause greater corruption amongst the chosen nation for the lord.

All these are written as severe warnings for us living in this age of grace. We are the New Testament church, the priests ministering to the lord. Let there be no blemish in us which makes the lord want to consume us in his wrath. Let’s meditate on some of our learnings from this piece of the word of God well chewed and digested.
  1. Learn to discern between the fire of God and the strange fire : Today, there are many places where there seems to be a lot of fire. But look closer – and see the source of that fire. It’s not from the altar of God – but from some strange unholy source. 
  2. Learn to be satisfied with the glory of God alone : When God stops doing miracles, let not man trigger a counterfeit revival to “keep the fire going”. Have the heart of Elijah who wanted a fire only from God (and who watered the sacrifice and the base of the altar to test that the fire was truly from God himself)
  3. Understand that when you try to create strange fire, you die. God in his mercy may not physically snuff you out, but the spirit in you grieves and is made defunct. He is grieved and stops giving you further advice. 
  4. When the elders understand that the modern day Abihu’s and Nadab’s have died spiritually, obey the voice of God to not mourn for them & to carry them outside the camp
  5. The lord says : (Lev 10:3) I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. The lord we present is holy, and hence, be Holy ! And in your simple sacrifices and humble spirit, is Our God glorified. 
  6. Beware of false worship and charismata. There is a true and glorious worship in the spirit. But to recreate the same effect, if a person tries to counterfeit it, remember the end of Nadab and Abihu. And there are indeed miracles which our lord does daily (and we’ve seen it!). But there are also false miracles in the hands of false prophets (Gold dust, anyone ?)

The lord warns that in the last days, there will be a falling-away and the evil spirit of darkness will seduce even the elect. Let’s hold onto Christ so that we will not be swayed by soulish displays and every slight of doctrine that comes our way.

Indeed, he has promised that He who has begun the good work in us will complete it in the day of the lord! Glory to His name. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ. 

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